Chamonix, France

Team Mulford GP & MB Ski Tour

The Gran Paradiso at 4,061m is the highest mountain entirely within Italy and sits in one of the most idyllic national parks in the Alps.

Victor Emmanuel (King of Italy) created the national park in 1856 as his personal hunting reserve. In 1920 his grandson (Victor Emanuel III) donated it to the nation creating Italy's first national park. The National park is rich in wildlife and it is common to see Ibex, Chamois, and Lammergeier (Bearded Vultures).

On this tour we undertake a traverse of the massif, culminating with an ascent of the Gran Paradiso. This ski tour is generally quieter than one in France or Switzerland. Dramatic scenery, wildlife, and friendly relaxing huts with Italian ambience all add up to a great week's ski touring!

The final two days gain the summit of Mont Blanc via the Arete Royal and Dome Du Goute. Skiing Mont Blanc involves some challenging climbing with skis on your rucksack, this section is technically challenging needing secure footwork with crampons and ice-axe. The Arete Royal and Bosses ridge to the summit is exposed so commitment and a good head for heights are essential!

Day Itinerary

  • Arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon and meet up with your Mountain Tracks guide for an initial briefing, review of the itinerary and kit check. We stay overnight in Chamonix.

     

  • We transfer by road through the Mont Blanc tunnel to the trailhead in the Valgrisenche valley. An hours skin / walk leads us up above the West bank of the reservoir Lago di Beauregard. Some years it is possible to drive this section. With our skins on we set off following the river up the steep sided valley to the Refugio Bezzi (2284m) where we spend the first night (3 hours).

    The Refugio Bezzi has a great reputation for excellent food, wine and a friendly atmosphere. There is running water and showers are available. 

  • At daybreak we head up the steep sided valley to the Col Bassac Dere (3082m) where crampons may be needed in icy conditions. From here you get a great view of the Rheims valley and our descent. The terrain takes us down past the Lac de Goletta (2099m) overshadowed by the impressive rock walls of the Grand Traversiere (3460m). Tricky navigation through the large cliff bands and a steep ski pitch lands us at the Refugio Benevolo (2285m) and our overnight stop. Again this hut is famous for its food and was renovated in 2015 providing greater comfort.
  • From the Benevolo hut we skin up the wide valley overlooking the Glacier du Lavassey to the Col Basei (3176m). From here we nip up the Punta Basei (3338m) affording our first views of the Grand Paradiso. The descent down the Ghiacciao Basey is steep and navigation critical with spectacular cliffs towering above the route on both sides. The Refuge Chivasso (2604m) is nestled next to the Col de Nivolet and feels quite remote. The hut is very traditional and has no running water and limited facilities but the food is outstanding!

  • We cross the undulating plateau of the Nivolet which leads us up to the Col Ferauda (3033m) and then onto the Colle di Punta Foura. An exciting descent down the Ghiacciaio di Pianna Foura may involve a very short roped section depending on conditions. If the group is feeling brave we can also ski directly down below the col (40 degrees in places). On reaching the upper part of the Vallon de Seyvaz, we follow this easily down to the hamlet of Pont. Here we get a much earned shower and hotel bed for the night!
  • A lie-in and late start is deserved as we only have a 3 hour ascent to the Refuge Vittorio Emanuel (2714m) our overnight staging post for the big event. We spend the afternoon preparing for tomorrow's big climb and stocking up on rest, food and water. The hut is old but has lots of atmosphere due to its famous location and heritage. 
  • Having a 4am breakfast at Refuge Vittorio Emanuel allows us plenty of time to ascend the Grand Paradiso (4061m), a mountain highly regarded by most Italians as it’s the highest mountain in Italy not crossed by either the Swiss or French border.
    The ascent is made via the Glacier du Grand Paradiso and should take around five hours to the summit. Crampons may be needed passing Il Roc (4026m) but will definitely be needed from the Finestra del Roc to the summit.
    We then rope up and scramble the along rocky ridge to gain great views and pictures of the Madonna on the summit.
    We descend back to Vittorio Emmanuel hut for a pasta lunch and then on to Pont via the upper Vallon de Seyvaz and our return journey by road to Chamonix.
  • Summit Ascent. A leisurely start before the Aiguille du Midi cable car and ascent to the Grand Mulets Refuge 3051m. This is a 3hr ski tour to the hut where you stay overnight.

  • Early alpine start from the hut for the summit ascent. We'll be climbing on a mixture of skis and crampons for about 8-10 hours in total. Leaving the hut you skin towards the Arête Royale which is climbed on crampons and leads to the Dome du Gouter. From there you skin and climb to the summit. If the conditions are ideal, we can ski right from the summit but it's usual to leave skis at the Vallot Hut 4382m for the final ascent to the summit. The descent will be via the Grand Plateau and past the Grands Mulets hut. It's a unique serious descent through wonderful glacial terrain. You return to the Plan d’Aiguille for the lift back down to Chamonix and return to the hotel to celebrate.

  • Depart after breakfast.

2022

Dates

Price

Sat 16 Apr
- Mon 25 Apr
£2360 Full
Flexible From £2,360 PRIVATE GROUP Enquire

The price includes:

  • eight days with IFMGA guides 

  • all guiding fees and expenses (including additional Mont Blanc summit guide)

  • 4 nights hotel accommodation (1 HB and 3 B&B)

  • 5 nights half-board accommodation in mountain huts

  • travel between Chamonix and the trailhead

 

The price does not include:

  • equipment hire

  • personal insurance

  • travel to/from Chamonix

  • lunches and beverages

 

*Single rooms subject to availability and supplement

 

 

 

Here at the Mountain Tracks, we give you our word that we will fully refund every part of your package holiday if it is not able to run due to COVID-19.

Our Mountain Tracks and holiday teams are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak guidance and advice while communicating closely with our suppliers to make sure everything is in place to keep you safe.
Read more: Frequently Asked Questions.

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

Your Financial Protection
ATOL
£2.50 per person of the cost of any air package is paid to the Civil Aviation Authority to provide ATOL Protection to you. This means the money paid for these arrangements is fully protected. Our ATOL number is ATOL 2911. For more information see our booking terms and conditions.
ABTOT
ABTOT provides protection for your booking as set out in Holiday Information.
Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
Registered in England No. 2099115. VAT No. GB 461 5692 34

ATOL        ABTOT

We accept the following payment methods

 

 

This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming to one of our Ski Tours.

During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities. 

Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.

We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.

If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.

    This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.

     

    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Ortovox. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer from cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis

    This winter our lead guides are using Salomon Explore MTN and Salomon QST touring skis. The MTN 95 is an award-winning ski with great stability at high speeds whilst the MTN 88 is a best-selling lightweight touring ski. The QST’s are slightly heavier and therefore suited to charging; perfect for day-touring.
    Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor are supporting our guides and we suggest that if you’re interested in any of the MTN or QST skis, you should make Lockwoods your first point of call. 


    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.


    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago, since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:

    • a method of attaching your skis in either an A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • built-in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips. 

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

    We recommend Simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+ 

     

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it. 

    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training

    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

Steeps 13.jpg

Chamonix

View map

The town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is situated at 1042m (3,396 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4807m (15,770 ft).

Chamonix is considered by many as Europe's mecca for outdoor sports and draws many enthusiasts from all over the world. Unlike many of the purpose built resorts, Chamonix is a proper working town with a large population of about 12,000 inhabitants. This number can be boosted by as many as 80 - 100,000 during the peak months in summer and winter.

As befits a town of this size there are plenty of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs.

Our top reasons to visit Chamonix

  • Home of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s great off-piste descents

  • Great destination for weekends and short breaks

  • Easy access from the UK and just 75 minutes by road from Geneva airport, which has regular flights from many UK airports

  • Thriving, working town full of shops, bars and restaurants = good shopping, good après-ski

  • The Alpine capital of France renowned for big mountain skiing, alpinism and extreme adventure

  • Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe

  • Very long ski season with skiing possible until well into May

  • Good range of accommodation for all budgets

Chamonix Ski Area

The skiing area of Chamonix is generally considered to have some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Much of this is accessible from the lift systems and includes descents of over 2,000m. The Chamonix valley extends over 20km and there are several separate lift systems and mountains which provide enormous variety and all are included on the Mont Blanc pass.

Off Piste runs include:

 

The Vallée Blanche

The longest off-piste ski descent in the world (24kms).

Pas de Chevre

Ascend to the top of Grand Montets and ski down to the Mer de Glace and on into Chamonix.

Glacier du Toule

You can ski the Glacier du Toule down towards Courmayeur and then catch the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche.

Le Tour

From the back of the Le Tour lift system there is fantastic off-piste skiing towards Vallorcine and Switzerland.

Some of the very best areas can only be reached with an hour's ski tour from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.

Chamonix is just as much about the climbing and mountaineering in the summer months, with easy access into the high mountains and many magnificent climbs and routes available plus an extensive network of high alpine huts its also a mecca for climbers.  Mont Blanc draws over 20,000 ascents a year both by ski and foot and any good weather day in the summer months will see numerous people achieve the summit.


Resort Information:

Resort Height: 1,042m

Highest Lift: 3,842m

Nearest Airport: Geneva

Transfer Options: From Geneva the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix. We recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Drop Offs or Cham Van who both offer comparativly priced transfers and run an efficient services.

More about Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. Its height is 4,807 metres (15,780 feet), but varies from year to year by a few metres, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. The mountain lies at 45°55′N, 6°55′E between the regions of Haute Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy

The first known ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.

GP Kenny 1.JPG

Gran Paradiso National Park

View map

The Gran Paradiso at 4061m is the highest mountain entirely within Italy and sits in one of the most idyllic National Parks in the Alps. It is located in the Graian Alps (45°32′N, 7°16′E) in the Aosta Valley.
Despite the peak's popularity with walkers, skiers and mountaineers, it has a feeling of remoteness that belies its accessibility and at 4061m, it's the perfect peak to start your ‘4000er' career and very achievable for hill-walkers looking for a new challenge.
The most convenient airport is Turin Caselle. Geneva Airport is also a good option and the journey time from there to the edge of the park is about 90 minutes (through the Mont Blanc tunnel).


Our top reasons for visiting the Gran Paradiso National Park

  • Climbing Gran Paradiso (in summer or winter), the highest mountain entirely within Italy
  • One of the Alps most beautiful National Parks - completely devoid of any resort developments
  • Easy access from Chamonix and Geneva Airport via the Mont Blanc tunnel and the Val d'Aosta
  • Friendly and well-priced mountain huts
  • Very varied terrain that is suitable for intro to ski touring trips as well as expert level tours
  • Ice climbing in Cogne. One of the very best venues in the Alps

We often use Chamonix as the start and end point of tours and treks within the Gran Paradiso area as acessability is quick by road (less than 2hrs).  

We run our Gran Paradiso Ski Tour in the region plus in the summer the peak is used as a training peak for our Mont Blanc Climber weeks and a goal in itself on other weeks.  The region is as beautiful in the summer as it is in the winter months. 

  • Insurance

    It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • Vaccination requirement

    It is a condition of booking that you are fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and you comply with the entry rules to a destination country.

MrZenTravel Website Development
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×